…Or, Little Syncretism Things…
Some of you may know that I have a budding relationship with Odin. When He appeared in my life the first few times it did nothing but scare the crap out of me. That has lessened, thankfully, and now I can concentrate on what I’m supposed to be learning from Him. There are circumstances that He wants addressed, but other than that He has yet to suggest anything that I wasn’t already involved in, or anything that I didn’t already know needed fixing. He and I have a pretty easy-going relationship, partly due to Zeus and Apollon keeping a watchful eye on my interactions with Him, and partly due to Him being incredibly understanding of my situation.
There are several things I work with Him on, but the most important thing He tries to teach me is how to be Sovereign; what that looks like in my life and with the spirits under my care, and what I need to do in order to project that Sovereignty without stepping on Apollon’s toes, and also how not to let Apollon walk all over me in the marriage.
As I’m sure you can guess, Apollon isn’t always pleased with the subject matter, but this education stems from an agreement between the two Kings, Zeus and Odin, and as much as He might not like it, He still has to abide by it, and so do I. So, I listen and I watch, and I try to apply what I’ve heard and seen.
Now, as Hunt season has already begun (early, so I’ve heard) I’m in the position of being truly involved in my Court’s activities. The Waiting Ones (which is the name they’ve called themselves since before I was finally given to them) are a host of dead fighting men and women, most of them previously human, some not so much, or at all. After having spent so long just waiting for me to be born for them, they now get to act upon their extreme boredom.
Sometimes that means chasing terrified wildlife, sometimes it means giving me nightmares, and still other times it means merging with another long established Hunt during the darkening days of the year. This is where Odin comes in again, though perhaps not in the way one might first expect.
I was told a story by Him, about two young Goddesses who once fled Their Homeland for reasons I am not at liberty to mention here. They came to a place entwined with another Pantheon, and over the course of many, many years, were accepted into that Pantheon via personal human experience and established myth. When looking back upon this, I’ve seen traces, though I claim it as nothing more than my personal doxa, even if I have spoken with the Goddesses in question about it, and even if They have vouched for the authenticity of Odin’s tale.
In the story, it was told that these Goddesses did not travel alone, but with a host of Their own– a Hunt, if you will, that remains loyal to Them to this day. It is this Hunt that my Court runs with during the darkening days, and their time with Them is soon to begin.
The Autumnal Equinox is, depending upon what calendar one uses, either tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow. According to my calendar, it’ll be the day after. As most Hellenic Polytheists I know of will perhaps be celebrating Persephone’s decent, I will be honoring Leto, and the riding of Her Hunt across the lands.
Of course, many also celebrate Apollon’s departure to Hyperborea on the Equinox, and this makes sense and is incorporated into my doxa, as Apollon and Artemis both will be riding in Their Mother’s Hunt, for at least the time between the Equinox and the end of Aegletia (the Treasury of Apollon’s October festival). So, there is certainly a departure at the Equinox, but Apollon hasn’t gone completely from the world yet. He remains on the outskirts of civilization, in our peripheral vision.
[And before anyone dares to tell me that this is “wrong”, please remember that Gods do not have to be in only one place at a single point in time. If that is your reason for rejecting my doxa, fine, but don’t think to explain to a bride of Apollon, who regularly interacts with other brides of Apollon, that her God (or any God) can not be in more than one place at a time. Save your breath.]
So, Leto, the fair-haired and veiled Consort of Zeus, seems to have a lot more going on than the motherly demure that She is so often characterized by in what writings on Her that survive, which of course gives us very little information on how peoples of the past actually viewed Her. In this, I rely on my doxa and on interactions with Her via dreams and symbolism.
When I see Leto, I do not see one who is tied down by conventional motherhood, though a large portion of our understanding of Her come from Her role as Mother of Artemis and Apollon. I see a Goddess of liminality, of twilight, flanked by wolves, who takes no shit and doles out justice of the finest quality. Leto suffers no insult lightly, either to Herself or to Her Children, and when She rides out on the darkening days, She does so unveiled, hair streaming behind her in awful glory. This is the Goddess whom Niobe insulted– the Goddess whose honor was defended by Artemis and Apollon, and these traits are but a few inherited from Her, by Them.
When I look at Leto, I see a Whole Goddess, Someone who has a past, a history, a life that began long before the birth of Her Children, and in that I find common ground for the growth of our relationship, as well as for personal growth. There is much I have (and have yet) to learn from Her in regard to keeping my own identity intact after becoming a mother. In this culture, motherhood is so easily dismissed, yet it is also lauded as the highest pedestal a woman can be seated upon, to the detriment of society.
Leto, who is quiet, who is veiled, is the same Leto who does not flinch in the presence of Hera, or any Other. She is the same Leto who throws off her veil to ride vigorously through the wilderness, and the same Leto who, for reasons of Her own, fled Her birthplace along with Her Sister and Their host to stake Her claim to the varied lands in ancient Hellas. And She was well respected throughout.
So, as the days darken, my spirits will wander off to follow Her, as they have done in years past, while I will remain here preparing to receive Apollon and His Mother and Sister for the Aegletia. And then They will leave to carry out Their various concerns for the Winter months.
It’s fascinating how so many of these revelations were brought about by a God with whom I never imagined I’d have anything to do with, directly. It’s fascinating how Zeus arranged this. And it’s fascinating how right it all feels… for me.